Internet volunteers transform search and rescue
- 26 September 2007
- Paul Marks
- Magazine issue 2623
FROM my viewpoint above the Nevada wilderness I'm scouring the landscape for signs of a missing aircraft. I'm searching for Steve Fossett, the millionaire, record-breaking aviator whose plane went missing on the Labor Day holiday.
If it were any other search I'd be in the cockpit of a search plane, but this time it's different. I'm sitting in front of my PC, 8000 kilometres away in London, sifting through satellite photos that I, like thousands of others, downloaded to take part in an internet-based search for the missing aviator.
As New Scientist went to press, Fossett's single-engine plane was still missing, and the Nevada Civil Air Patrol had scaled down the search. But the photos scoured by online volunteers helped to reveal eight other, older aircraft wrecks that surfaced and would otherwise have been lost in the 44,000-square-kilometre area, highlighting the potential of online "crowd-sourced" search. My experience ...